Housing Complex

Barry Farm Meeting Called Off Amid Angry Protests

A community presentation by developers of their plans for Barry Farm had to be called off before it began, amid furious protests from neighbors and outsiders opposed to redevelopment of the low-income housing community.

Seven development teams responded to the city's solicitation in the fall for plans to convert the neighborhood near the Anacostia Metro Station into a mixed-use development, and those seven teams were invited by the community's resident council to present their plans tonight at the Excel Academy Public Charter School. But as soon as the first developer got up to present—potential mayoral candidate Robert Bobb, representing the Barry Farm Community Redevelopment Team—the large contingent of people brought to the meeting by the protest group Empower D.C. stood up and began chanting, "We shall not, we shall not be moved!"

Not all of the protesters were Barry Farm residents, nor were all of the Barry Farm residents protesting. As the Empower group chanted, a woman in the crowd shouted at them, "Do you all live in Barry Farm? Some people want this!" Protesters and residents who wanted the meeting to proceed then got in each other's faces, prompting several police officers to step in, before D.C. Housing Authority officials asked them to stand back.

The meeting was raucous from the start, as meeting organizers from the Housing Authority and the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative couldn't prevent repeated outbursts from the crowd that made it nearly impossible to proceed.

"It's never the wrong time to do what's right!" shouted one man after being asked to hold his commentary until after the presentations. "If you say something and I disagree, I'm not going to sit back and bite my tongue!"

The chief concern of residents was that they'd be displaced by the redevelopment, either during the construction phase or permanently. Some expressed doubts that the city would follow through on its pledge to replace existing low-income housing units with new ones on a one-for-one basis.

"They want us out of here!" shouted Empower organizer Schyla Pondexter-Moore, who was the chief rallier of the protesters tonight but does not herself live at Barry Farm.

A 54-year resident of Barry Farm attempted to quiet the crowd but was drowned out by chants of "Stand up! Fight back!" from the Empower group.

Eventually, a Housing Authority official took the developers outside the room and explained to them that the meeting would have to be rescheduled, potentially at the Housing Authority instead of in the neighborhood. The developers insisted they were not discouraged by the protest, though some had traveled a long distance to be there.

"We've done 30 Hope VI developments," Tony Salazar of McCormack Baron Salazar, who'd come from Los Angeles, told me after the meeting was canceled. "We're used to having sentiment that's very strong. We're very committed."

I asked Pondexter-Moore if her aim was to scare developers away. "Yes," she said, "and the ultimate goal is to show [the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] that there's opposition."

Housing Authority spokesman Rick White was disappointed that the meeting was unable to proceed. "It's just really unfortunate that people came from all over the country to present to the residents of Barry Farm," he said, "and people who want to disrupt the process got in the way." He also said he was confident that the developers wouldn't be dissuaded from continuing with their plans, "because the development teams are familiar with the community process."

But resident Michelle Hamilton insisted that full-scale redevelopment simply isn't needed. "All we need is remodel and fix-up," she told me. "The city needs to do their job and fix it up, and maybe it'll be a better place for us."

The full redevelopment process is expected to take upward of 10 years, so this likely isn't the last time we'll see passionate clashes over Barry Farm.

UPDATE 6/12: Here's a letter from the Housing Authority to Barry Farm residents explaining what happened:

  • Pingback: Morning Links - Loose Lips

  • Pingback: District Line Daily: Good News for Gio Gonzalez - City Desk

  • Okeydokey

    Well, what would you expect from a zipcode with 20% unemployment and where 40% of citizens are on the dole?

    Of course they don't want change. They have their projects, it is where their parents lived before them, and where they expect their kids to follow in their chosen lifestyle of unemployment and general crime. I would be upset too if someone told me my generational gravey train was about to go away.

  • Ward-8

    I see a lot of folks yelling the loudest, don't even live in the farms,one of southeast most crime ridden neighborhood so much so the police have to set up permanent multiple concentrated police presences all the time.What is so amazing the majority of the crimes are committed by the thugs who live there the majority of whom are always protected by their enablers (mamas,grandmothers,aunts,cousins & babymomas) and the no snitch B S, dispite the all put effort by th police,as soon as one thug is arrested and sent to jail,they just make another by the abundance of absentee sperm donors. Those folks better wake up and smell the coffee,take a look across that iron fence just built separating the Farms from the Billion dollars buildings rising on the old SE's campus. yes, change is coming with or without the approval of those who demand the Government continue to provide them free housing any place they want and not where the Government decides.

  • lesserlesserwashington

    move em out.

  • dote

    Sounds like Okeydokey belongs to the Cleveland park listserv.

    As someone who works for the DC Government for the said "dole" system, I can tell you that gentrifying their neighborhood with "mixed" housing is not taking away their "gravey train." The two have nothing to do with each other. If you read anything about what you so strongly speak about, you would know that the generational locomotive has already been stopped. In 2014 they plan on cutting the welfare rosters by 50% for anyone that has been receiving public assistance for more than 5 years.

    I am highly confused as to how you are linking "dole" with the anger of a community that is basically following the fate of most of the public housing in DC. I have done home visits in Barry Farms, and I can say that yes, they need remodeling, the idea of "mixed" housing makes me weary.

    Many of said people on the "dole" system are desperate to change. I have 40 year old products of DC public schools who are completely illiterate, mothers of 4 children with undiagnosed learning disabilities, people who have been SHOT IN THE FACE and cannot see out of one eye. So many factors go into play that affect one's employment, it is not a choice. I feel sorry for how ignorant you must be to this city's issues to think that everyone across the river is completely fine with being the poorest of the poor.

  • a change gon’ come

    I think that this report could have done a better job on what the issues are, rather than just the noise made. How many people were present? How many seemed to be from Barry Farm? This meeting was already problematic because of the 2 day notice; somehow I'm guessing the developers from CA knew more than 2 days ahead of time that this meeting was going to happen? The developer can certainly afford to be complacent about Hope VI development because he's going to make money converting public housing to private ownership, and a very small percentage of those displaced are ever going to come back. Dig a little deeper, please.

  • danmac

    Much as I like the idea of Hope VI and 100% replacement of the public housing units, until the city actually completes the Capper Carrollsburg Hope VI by replacing the 300* units not yet built after 10 years I would be opposed to anymore Hope Vi projects. Not only have the 300+ units not been built but there is no timeline of when they will be built although the land sits vacant.

  • Chris

    Okeydokey, you're kidding right?

  • Tom

    I find it really disturbing how some people think they should always get to live in public housing. I think it should be a transitional place, not a permanent home. We live in a big region. If DC or a specific neighborhood is too expensive for you then move someplace cheaper. I wish I could live in Logan Circle, Capital Hill, or Mt. Pleasant but I can't afford it. So I moved someplace else. I resent it when other people think that they are entitled to live in neighborhoods where they don't own property and can't afford to rent. I really hate Empower DC.

  • Brian

    Tom...I couldn't have said it better myself.

  • Pingback: The marijuana arrest capital of the U.S.

  • JustMe

    I have done home visits in Barry Farms, and I can say that yes, they need remodeling, the idea of "mixed" housing makes me weary.

    It's a shame that it makes you weary, but that is your problem. Mixed-use development is "normal" and appropriate for someplace by the Anacostia metro station. If it makes you tired, I suggest you get more exercise to increase your energy levels. If you're too weary to deal with it, that is really not a concern of the city.

  • Calvin H. Gurley

    Attack the Washingtonian/resident…but not the D.C. Government, elected Council and the Mayor who allow public housing to decay, allow our schools and education system to be sold-out to contractors ( U.S. Congress/Big Business’s Charter School System. But they[Council] are miss-spending $1 plus billion dollars on an already “defunct” toy H Street Trolley System while well financially planned Prince George’s Gaylord-National Harbor is receiving a MGM Hotel/Casino and Disney is planning its share of development too.

    Working D.C. residents who serve you food at Denny’s, Mc Donald’s and Popeye’s need affordable housing that is near their jobs or just one bus trip away. Or, your lunch won’t be ready when you professionals take your 2 hour lunch breaks.

    WORD ON THE STREET…
    Lincoln – East Capitol dwellings, Arthur Capper and other public housing where residents were told that they will return to their homes after the mix-use development was completed…found that they were lied to and was not able to return/afford to the new high priced development.

    So, why would those residents in Barry Farms believe any differently from the same Mayor and Council who is selling the same “return home” story after mix-use development is completed on their homes?

    Stop picking on low income, hard working D.C. residents they are not miss-spending $1 billion dollars on an old time period H Street Trolley System.

    THERE IS A VITAL NEED FOR THE POOR
    Important: D.C. Government need poor residents to receive Federal Grant and Program money to pay for irresponsible Department Heads and directors’ salaries who are not able to file the U.S. Congress’s required quarterly expenditure report to account for stolen and mismanaged government funds.

    Most Important: Non-Profits need poor D.C. residents to receive Federal and D.C. Grant and Program funding to pay their Executives and Directors’ $1500,000. plus – six figure salaries to live in their new $500,000. D.C. condominiums.

    Wake Up Trusting Citizens

    Calvin H. Gurley

  • Thomas

    "If you say something and I disagree, I'm not going to sit back and bite my tongue!"

    Quite the attitude.

  • Calvin H. Gurley

    THERE IS A VITAL NEED FOR THE POOR...Social Programs PAY Big!!

    Important: The D.C. Government need poor residents to receive Federal Grant and Program money to pay for irresponsible Department Heads and directors’ salaries who are not able to file the U.S. Congress’s required quarterly "social program" expenditure reports to account for stolen and mismanaged government funds.

    Most Important: Non-Profits need poor D.C. residents to receive Federal and D.C. Grant and Social Program funding to pay for their Executives and Directors’ $1500,000. plus – six figure salaries and to be able to purchase their new $500,000. D.C. condominium.

    So stop talking bad and degrading poor D.C. residents because they are paying the bills and mortgage for some one you know as a neighbor or friend in your community in the District of Columbia.

    Wake Up Trusting Citizens

    Calvin H. Gurley
    .

    Wake Up Trusting Citizens

    Calvin H. Gurley

  • Cody

    Right on, Tom!

    There are too many people who feel entitled to government-provided housing for years and years. Government-provided housing should be a transitional place -- two, three years MAX. No more. If you can't get your shit together in three years, that's on you; no more sleeping on the taxpayer's couch. I believe in the social safety net, but enough is enough. At what point does public housing become a subsidy for poor life-decisions?

  • JustMe

    There are too many people who feel entitled to government-provided housing for years and years. Government-provided housing should be a transitional place -- two, three years MAX. No more. If you can't get your shit together in three years, that's on you; no more sleeping on the taxpayer's couch.

    Better the taxpayer's couch than the taxpayer's street. Look, some people are never going to have their act together, professionally speaking. They're not going to get promoted into middle management and get a single family house in a suburb with a white picket fence. They're poor, in a dead end, and will always be poor, burdened by debt, lack of job options, and a family they have to support. Low-income housing just allows people to live someplace acceptable that they pay rent on.

    The alternative was mass shantytowns and ramshackle slums made up of plywood and aluminum, and that's a lot worse for the taxpayer than a few poor people living in a heated building with hot water.

  • LongtimeResident-TM

    "Working D.C. residents who serve you food at Denny’s, Mc Donald’s and Popeye’s need affordable housing that is near their jobs or just one bus trip away."

    I never understood this demand for the government to subsidize people living close to where they work. As someone who has lived and worked in this area for a quarter century, all of my jobs here have required between a 35 minute and 1 1/4 hour commute each way, with a combination of bus, rail and/or extensive walking. How much of the city's resources need to be devoted to making sure food service workers don't have to god forbid ride more than one bus/metrorail line as part of their commute? Is this a new human right, housing no more than one bus trip away from your job?

  • CapCityRecordsPanhandler

    @a change gon' come

    The reporter doesn't know what the issues are so he doesn't know from whence to dig.

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    I'm not mad at him, though.

  • Calvin H. Gurley

    @Just Me...thank you for your compassion for the poor.

    A hand out is a hand out of taxpayer's money regardless- if it keep food on the table for Developers ,giving the H Street Trolley Car contract for the purchase of street cars to an U.S. House Representative's business-friend who financially funds the house member's campaign, giving tax abatements to businesses that don't need them or the Council giving Mr.Abe Pollin $50 million dollars on his birthday.

    Taxes collected are to be spent...period. The question is on whom and for what purpose? A balance spending approach is needed, in this case, the poor and the greedy.

    Calvin H. Gurley

  • name

    Calvin,

    I assume you're not really as stupid as your arguments. If you are, please find another line of work.

    Regards,

    LTR

  • Jim Ed

    The problem with groups like Empower DC is that they offer no viable alternative. Rather, they just make noise against what they don't like. HOPE VI isn't perfect, and it probably will lead to some displacement, much like it has at Capper/Carrollsburg. However, what are the other options? Leave it as is, a source of crime, drugs, and poverty? Pouring money into fixing the current buildings isn't going to fix the societal problems, but breaking up the warehoused concentration of poverty might.

  • Insanity-worked-out

    I must say, I have to drive by Barry Farms once a week in evening rush hour. That's a pretty scary place.

  • Insanity-worked-out

    Now, some people are going to be on public assistance there whole life, like my sister who is severely mentally ill. But doesn't it make more sense to "mainstream" the poor and disabled by putting them in inclusive, mixed income, mixed use communities? My sister has a section 8 apartment in a very ritzy apartment complex and it's made a world of difference for her. C'mon residents of DC, don't we want that community for all our brethren? My $.02

  • Really?

    Really Ya'll? No Really?

    @Jim Ed at least Empower is putting up a challenge to a system that bending over the poor and working poor with no vaseline. No Ed let's fault them for their inability to hire a lobbyist or have enough money to pool together a nice fat white envelope to hand to a dc politician to give them that old wink and a smile.

    WAMU (which the city paper only gave a link and smile) did a GREAT series on how the DC GOV't not only GAVE away properties for $1 meal fry but they also used DC tax payer money to GIVE them subsidies and what has been the results?

    While I agree mix-use is great, the problem is DC SUCKS! at implementation. SUCKS! And DC and their developer buddies have done is make promises that that the majority of residents will be able to return while they cross their fingers behind their backs. We've seen this with sursum corda, Capper Carrollsburg, and I'm waiting with baited breath on Kellsey Garden

    See it's easy really easy to pick on the poor. It's easy to say we don't want to see these undesirables living in this cosmopolitan city. Nope, pillow and snow ball fights are more important. It's oh so chic to spout off at the local wateringhole about their days in peace corps but deep down they ain't feeling living next to them.

    I wish the WAMU comment section was filled with the same outrage, but I left to think that many could care less b/c the developers ends justify the means.

    Lastly, I see citypaper is still having issues with reporters doing any in-depth stories.

  • spmoore

    First off, there were roughly 30 residents at the meeting and the majority of them were protesting. There were only two residents that supported the developers. One of the women that supported the developers I know personally. She has been displaced TWICE from two different public housing properties that were converted to mixed income. She is afraid if she doesn't support DCHA she will be moved AGAIN and not be able to return. I repeat, SHE IS AFRAID OF BEING DISPLACED AGAIN AND FEELS SHE HAS TO SUPPORT DCHA TO RETURN AFTER PROPOSED REDEVELOPMENT!

    I am the organizer for Empower DC and I LIVE IN PUBLIC HOUSING!! The other supporters were from OUR DC. We were there to support the Barry Farms Tenants and Allies Association. A RESIDENT LED group that is building collective power and fighting for ALL of Barry Farms.

    Public Housing is a systematic way to provide truly affordable housing for very low and low income people who otherwise cannot afford market rate rent. If public housing did not exist, there would be quadruple the amount of homeless people and families and the city would then have to absorb the cost of providing homeless services.

    DC has demolished at least NINE public housing properties since 2000. Eastgate, East Capitol Dwellings, Frederick Douglass, Stanton Dwellings, Valley Green, Sheridan Terrace, Ellen Wilson, etc. Since these redevelopments, the waiting list for housing in DC has gone from 20,000 in 2000 to 70,000 13 years later!!! Homeless numbers are up and the affordable housing shortage is at an all time high!! They are pushing low income black people out of this city at a rapid rate and the demolition if public housing is a major part of this push out!!

    No, I am not a resident of Barry Farms, but I am a resident of DC public housing, a DC native,a black woman, and a mother of 4. I support the residents of Barry Farms that are willing to fight to keep their community from being bull dozed!! There are hundreds of ppl in the same boat as me. I cannot afford to pay $2000 in rent to live here. Where will the city house all of these people that need low income housing if they keep tearing it down? Why does the city keep lying to residents saying they will come back when proof shows only 11% of original residents return!!

    And incidentally, these developers that are bidding to bulldoze Barry Farms ARE NOT FROM DC AND DEFINITELY NOT FROM BARRY FARMS!!!

    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!! We need to PRESERVE AND IMPROVE Public Housing, NOT DEMOLISH IT!! We deserve a roof over our head and to be treated with respect regardless of our economic status.

    PRESERVE PUBLIC HOUSING!!

  • Scottie

    The Barry Farm--not Farms. Is long over due to be redeveloped--DCHA has been slow in spending the last of the planning money and is spending more money doing the very same outreach that happened 12 years ago. Would someone inform me What happen to all the plans that were made 12 years ago with the Barry Farm residents--it would seen to me that DCHA-need to dust off the old plans as a starting position and allow the residents to go from were they started from 12 years ago. Save the money and spend it on assisting the residents to move out--because it is going to happen one way or the other. Homeland Security has already changed the area to meet their needs--and there are many many more ie The Playhouse is comming--The New Park under the old 11th Street bridge etc etc.

  • David

    I understand that housing and poverty are complex issues but I'm not sure what shouting down someone accomplishes... Will you allow for civil discourse at the next meeting? If that continues I have to assume that sooner or later the developers will either give up and nothing will get done or they will just cut the current residents out completely, neither of which can serve those peoples best interest can it?..

    As someone who was about to buy a house in that area this story was very discouraging. This combined with failures of the local ANC and other elected officials on other issues makes me think moving here would be a huge mistake.

  • John Muller

    Barry Farm Redevelopment Plans Restart
    East of the River, November 2012

    http://www.capitalcommunitynews.com/content/barry-farm-redevelopment-plans-restart

    On the first Friday in November, Nella Peterson, President of the Barry Farm Resident Council, was asked by the DC Housing Authority (DCHA), along with other members of the resident council, to read and evaluate seven proposals within a week to select a master planner and developer for her neighborhood.

    “They’re very complicated and in depth,” Peterson says. “Housing has put a priority on these proposals. It’s mind-boggling; we have no time.”

    Last month the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded Choice Neighborhood planning grants to 17 recipients, including DCHA, which received $300,000 for its proposal for the redevelopment of Barry Farm Dwellings. To jumpstart redevelopment efforts, when the Housing Authority completes the planning process it intends to apply for a competitive Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant. This could provide up to $30 million for the revitalization of the Barry Farm community, according to Dena Michaelson, DCHA’s Director of Public Affairs and Communications.

    The announcement from HUD comes on the heels of DCHA’s receiving those seven proposals in response to the call for a master planning and development team to lead a $400 million, four-phase renewal process that could take an estimated two decades. Barry Farm Dwellings sits on 26 acres in Southeast, bounded by Firth Sterling Avenue, Suitland Parkway, Wade Road and St. Elizabeths’ West Campus, with more than one million square feet projected for mixed-use redevelopment. That is a large piece of land, though far smaller than the original Barry Farm, which had 375 acres when purchased for $52,000 by the Freedmen’s Bureau in 1867.

    DCHA is expected to announce a short list from the seven applicants this month. Finalists were evaluated by a six-member panel with equal representation from DCHA, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DPMED) and the Barry Farm Resident Council. A similar panel will score the final proposals from the short list and make recommendations to Adrianne Todman, DCHA’s Executive Director, in March 2013. Once Todman accepts the finalist, she will take the proposal to DCHA’s Board of Commissioners for final approval. The proposal can be sent back to the panel with questions from either Todman or the Board.

    As part of the proposal process the master planner and developer will identify other sources of private and public funding that will be used to complete the project, including the Choice Neighborhoods seed grant, if DCHA wins it. The Housing Authority has a track record of leveraging HUD grants. In total, DCHA has received $182 million through seven HOPE VI grants, which have been leveraged to return “more than $1.5 billion in community development for the District,” according to Michaelson.

    Ground-floor retail has not been incorporated into the recently opened Sheridan Station, but plans for Barry Farm’s redevelopment could include up to 30,000 square feet of retail to complement the addition of hundreds of market rate units.

    DCHA is aware of Barry Farm residents’ concern about displacement. “The city’s New Communities program, HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods program and the DCHA Board of Commissioners’ Development Principles all require a 1-to-1 replacement of units that serve low-income families on site or in the immediate community,” confirmed Michaelson. “There are 100 units, 60 already built and occupied and 40 being built, at Sheridan Station and Matthews Memorial Terrace that are part of the Barry Farm redevelopment. The priority for all 432 units is for Barry Farm families in good standing. A successful redevelopment will deconcentrate the public housing on the footprint to provide for a mixed-income, transit-oriented, green community.”

    Kalfani Ture, a doctoral student who has been immersed in the community since 2007, observes that “on one hand, policymakers say that Barry Farm Dwellings proper is too dense in the sociological characteristics of a ‘RUG,’ a racialized urban ghetto.” He continues: “But on the other hand, the same policymakers say Barry Farm needs greater density because it hasn’t appreciated for the market. The re-facing of the Anacostia waterfront, on both sides, is in the hopes a developer will see the attractiveness of investing in this community and create density of disposable income-consumers.”

    Disconnect between city officials and Barry Farm residents is straightforward, says Ture. “The primary concerns of residents are self-preservation of their family and kinfolk in response to the structural policies that have produced the community’s desperation, which the current development policy proposes to resolve. The city’s intention is to make money and expose Barry Farm to the market. These are two antithetical perspectives on the same community.”

    Barry Farm Residents Wait for the Next Step

    Anxiety has been mounting for residents since Mayor Adrian Fenty and Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry held a series of meetings at Matthews Memorial Baptist Church in spring 2008 to discuss the city’s New Communities redevelopment plan, which began in November 2005 and was approved by the City Council in 2006. With the downturn in the economy and housing market in fall 2008, plans to rejuvenate the faded and blighted community were put on the shelf. More than four years later the whole process begins anew.

    Through all the fits and starts seasoned residents of Barry Farm have developed mistrust toward the city government. The city seems to engender residents’ worst fears, and in response an emergency town hall meeting was organized in late October. The meeting drew more than 50 attendees, including neighborhood artist-activist and documentary filmmaker Tendani Mpulubusi, who is a member of the Barry Farm New Communities Advisory Board. “A sense of intense concern was expressed at the meeting,” he says, “but this emotion was purposeful, directed, and empowering.”According to Mpulubusi, Barry Farm residents are working with legal counsel provided by a citywide nonprofit to draft a “Community Benefits Agreement” and provide “competency and engagement” workshops as the development process moves forward.

    On a recent visit to the neighborhood, flyers posted by the Barry Farm Resident Council were seen hanging inconspicuously on the door of the Barry Farm Recreation Center and inside Charlie’s Corner store on Sumner Road SE. The posters demand improved public safety, community heritage preservation, job training and employment opportunities and “Our Right to Return to Barry Farm after the Development!”

    As for the future of Barry Farm, Nella Peterson, a home health aide to her mother, says, “I would like to see us return to being a close-knit community. We need to get back on that path.”

    No Word on Next Meeting

    A “Barry Farm New Communities” public meeting planned for October 25 at the Excel Academy was cancelled. With the approaching holidays and demands on the Barry Farm Resident Council, the next public meeting is not expected to convene until early 2013.

  • John Muller

    Empower DC works to Organize Public Housing Residents
    East of the River, January 2013

    http://www.capitalcommunitynews.com/content/empower-dc-works-organize-public-housing-residents

    On the first Friday in November, Nella Peterson, President of the Barry Farm Resident Council, was asked by the DC Housing Authority (DCHA), along with other members of the resident council, to read and evaluate seven proposals within a week to select a master planner and developer for her neighborhood.

    “They’re very complicated and in depth,” Peterson says. “Housing has put a priority on these proposals. It’s mind-boggling; we have no time.”

    Last month the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded Choice Neighborhood planning grants to 17 recipients, including DCHA, which received $300,000 for its proposal for the redevelopment of Barry Farm Dwellings. To jumpstart redevelopment efforts, when the Housing Authority completes the planning process it intends to apply for a competitive Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant. This could provide up to $30 million for the revitalization of the Barry Farm community, according to Dena Michaelson, DCHA’s Director of Public Affairs and Communications.

    The announcement from HUD comes on the heels of DCHA’s receiving those seven proposals in response to the call for a master planning and development team to lead a $400 million, four-phase renewal process that could take an estimated two decades. Barry Farm Dwellings sits on 26 acres in Southeast, bounded by Firth Sterling Avenue, Suitland Parkway, Wade Road and St. Elizabeths’ West Campus, with more than one million square feet projected for mixed-use redevelopment. That is a large piece of land, though far smaller than the original Barry Farm, which had 375 acres when purchased for $52,000 by the Freedmen’s Bureau in 1867.

    DCHA is expected to announce a short list from the seven applicants this month. Finalists were evaluated by a six-member panel with equal representation from DCHA, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DPMED) and the Barry Farm Resident Council. A similar panel will score the final proposals from the short list and make recommendations to Adrianne Todman, DCHA’s Executive Director, in March 2013. Once Todman accepts the finalist, she will take the proposal to DCHA’s Board of Commissioners for final approval. The proposal can be sent back to the panel with questions from either Todman or the Board.

    As part of the proposal process the master planner and developer will identify other sources of private and public funding that will be used to complete the project, including the Choice Neighborhoods seed grant, if DCHA wins it. The Housing Authority has a track record of leveraging HUD grants. In total, DCHA has received $182 million through seven HOPE VI grants, which have been leveraged to return “more than $1.5 billion in community development for the District,” according to Michaelson.

    Ground-floor retail has not been incorporated into the recently opened Sheridan Station, but plans for Barry Farm’s redevelopment could include up to 30,000 square feet of retail to complement the addition of hundreds of market rate units.

    DCHA is aware of Barry Farm residents’ concern about displacement. “The city’s New Communities program, HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods program and the DCHA Board of Commissioners’ Development Principles all require a 1-to-1 replacement of units that serve low-income families on site or in the immediate community,” confirmed Michaelson. “There are 100 units, 60 already built and occupied and 40 being built, at Sheridan Station and Matthews Memorial Terrace that are part of the Barry Farm redevelopment. The priority for all 432 units is for Barry Farm families in good standing. A successful redevelopment will deconcentrate the public housing on the footprint to provide for a mixed-income, transit-oriented, green community.”

    Kalfani Ture, a doctoral student who has been immersed in the community since 2007, observes that “on one hand, policymakers say that Barry Farm Dwellings proper is too dense in the sociological characteristics of a ‘RUG,’ a racialized urban ghetto.” He continues: “But on the other hand, the same policymakers say Barry Farm needs greater density because it hasn’t appreciated for the market. The re-facing of the Anacostia waterfront, on both sides, is in the hopes a developer will see the attractiveness of investing in this community and create density of disposable income-consumers.”

    Disconnect between city officials and Barry Farm residents is straightforward, says Ture. “The primary concerns of residents are self-preservation of their family and kinfolk in response to the structural policies that have produced the community’s desperation, which the current development policy proposes to resolve. The city’s intention is to make money and expose Barry Farm to the market. These are two antithetical perspectives on the same community.”

    Barry Farm Residents Wait for the Next Step

    Anxiety has been mounting for residents since Mayor Adrian Fenty and Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry held a series of meetings at Matthews Memorial Baptist Church in spring 2008 to discuss the city’s New Communities redevelopment plan, which began in November 2005 and was approved by the City Council in 2006. With the downturn in the economy and housing market in fall 2008, plans to rejuvenate the faded and blighted community were put on the shelf. More than four years later the whole process begins anew.

    Through all the fits and starts seasoned residents of Barry Farm have developed mistrust toward the city government. The city seems to engender residents’ worst fears, and in response an emergency town hall meeting was organized in late October. The meeting drew more than 50 attendees, including neighborhood artist-activist and documentary filmmaker Tendani Mpulubusi, who is a member of the Barry Farm New Communities Advisory Board. “A sense of intense concern was expressed at the meeting,” he says, “but this emotion was purposeful, directed, and empowering.”According to Mpulubusi, Barry Farm residents are working with legal counsel provided by a citywide nonprofit to draft a “Community Benefits Agreement” and provide “competency and engagement” workshops as the development process moves forward.

    On a recent visit to the neighborhood, flyers posted by the Barry Farm Resident Council were seen hanging inconspicuously on the door of the Barry Farm Recreation Center and inside Charlie’s Corner store on Sumner Road SE. The posters demand improved public safety, community heritage preservation, job training and employment opportunities and “Our Right to Return to Barry Farm after the Development!”

    As for the future of Barry Farm, Nella Peterson, a home health aide to her mother, says, “I would like to see us return to being a close-knit community. We need to get back on that path.”

    No Word on Next Meeting

    A “Barry Farm New Communities” public meeting planned for October 25 at the Excel Academy was cancelled. With the approaching holidays and demands on the Barry Farm Resident Council, the next public meeting is not expected to convene until early 2013.

  • John Muller

    New Barry Farm Recreation Center Gets Started
    East of the River, April 2013

    http://www.capitalcommunitynews.com/content/new-barry-farm-recreation-center-gets-started

    By summer time residents of Barry Farm and folks throughout the metropolitan area who converge on the neighborhood to take in spirited basketball games at the famed George Goodman League will notice activity that has been a long time coming – the construction of a new recreation center. Initially conceived as a $15 million public works project during the previous mayoral administration, the center now has a projected price tag of $26 million, which Mayor Gray advanced in his budget released to the city council late last month.

    “The scope of the recreation center has grown in response to the direction and input we have received in ongoing conversations with the community,” said John Stokes, chief of staff for the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). “This is a critical project for us.” Despite vocal concerns from residents and activist group Empower DC, who protested last month’s groundbreaking, Stokes confirmed that the existing Barry Farm recreation center at 1230 Sumner Road SE will remain open “at minimum through August.”

    The Barry Farm facility “will be 47,000 square feet, which will be one of the largest in the city. There are a couple that are larger, but very few that are,” said Mayor Gray, before donning the ceremonial hard hat and moving the traditional first shovel-full of dirt. Included in the new recreation center will be a “natatorium,” said Gray. “It’s essentially an indoor pool that will be available.” According to Stokes, “Our goal is to have the new in-door swimming pool completed in time for next summer, which is pretty aggressive.”

    When completed, the new recreation center will include an 11,000 square-foot indoor gymnasium, senior room, multipurpose rooms, teen room, computer lab, game area, locker room, kitchen, multipurpose field, basketball courts and bleachers, and playground. In addition it will have a parking garage. The existing court for the Goodman League, where local basketball talent competes with professional hoopsters from European leagues and stars from the NBA, such as Prince George’s County native Kevin Durant and Washington Wizards point guard John Wall, will not be touched.

    To finance the construction of the new recreation center, monies will be combined from the New Communities Initiative and DPR’s capital budget. “Because the new recreation center will be on a housing property, we have to work through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development,” Stokes said, which adds another layer of permitting. “We are on track in getting all of those approvals.”

    Only then will the current recreation center be demolished. Inhis remarks at the groundbreaking Mayor Gray said mobile recreation vans will service the community until the new Barry Farm recreation center opens.

    With nearly 40 percent of the city’s children living in neighborhoods east of the river and disparities in health outcomes, such as high concentrations of obesity and diabetes, the Barry Farm recreation center is designed for and will serve multiple needs. It will complement new facilities in Ward 7’s Deanwood, which opened in 2009, and in nearby Fort Stanton on Morris Road SE, slated to open later this summer.

    Surveyors at Work

    Wasting no time in Barry Farm, on the first of April stakes were in the ground around the perimeter of the existing recreation center. Orange spray paint declared “LOD,” an abbreviation for “Limit of Disturbance,” meaning the area to be cleared or graded. “Excuse me,” a young man said as he reached down and retrieved a football that had rolled to a stop under a surveyor’s tripod set up in an alley behind Sumner Road. A dozen students on spring break were playing touch-football, oblivious to the preliminary work going on around them. Chain-link fencing had gone up over the weekend around the recreation center grounds, limiting access to some playgrounds but not sealing off the recreation center as some had feared.

    Master Developer-Planner Proposals under Review

    Fighting through the chants and persistent heckling of a dozen residents and activists with Empower DC, Mayor Gray led off his remarks at the groundbreaking with the promise that “in addition to the recreation center, there will be new housing that’s going to be constructed.” Before that happens the DC Housing Authority (DCHA) will close out a $300,000 Choice Neighborhood planning grant that they were awarded last year from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, and continue moving forward with the process of selecting a master developer-planner for the redevelopment of Barry Farm Dwellings.

    “The Planning grant is moving right along,” said Dena Michaelson, DCHA’s director of public affairs and communications. “We are holding meetings and developing the plans that the grant funds. We hope residents will be full and active participants in all of the committees and sub-committees in developing the transformation plan.” The separate call last autumn for applications for a master planning and development team drew seven submissions. According to Michaelson all seven were deemed qualified and advanced to the next round of the selection process. “We have invited all seven applicants to submit proposals which will be under evaluation by a panel that includes Barry Farm residents. Through this process it is our intention to select a single master developer.”

  • John Muller

    O'Connell at the Post has been covering this process for many years.

  • John Muller

    [My error on the previous post.]

    Empower DC works to Organize Public Housing Residents
    East of the River, January 2013

    http://www.capitalcommunitynews.com/content/empower-dc-works-organize-public-housing-residents

    Over the last ten years thousands of units of public housing in the District, most of them east of the river, have been redeveloped, scattering hundreds of residents to the wind, declares Schyla Pondexter-Moore, a resident of Highland Addition public housing property off Wahler Place SE and Public Housing Organizer for Empower DC.

    This past October Pondexter-Moore and members of Highland Dwellings Together We Stand, working alongside pro-bono counsel, reached a groundbreaking settlement with the DC Housing Authority (DCHA). Although renovation of the 208-unit Highland Dwellings, jumpstarted with federal stimulus funds and now coupled with private capital, has been on and off for more than two years, when completed it will remain a public housing property for 40 years, according to the settlement. DC Superior Court Judge Joan Zeldon presided over the case and in a press release called the outcome “unchartered territory.” All of Highland’s former residents will be able to return to the renovated property as a matter of right, without going through additional procedures such as credit and background checks that have kept residents from returning to other redevelopments, says Pondexter-Moore.

    The Goal Is Self-Advocacy

    Empower DC was formed nine years ago as a grassroots, membership-based organization committed to organizing low-income communities directly impacted by issues of displacement. It focuses on self-advocacy and building coalitions to magnify the political power of residents. During the past nine years the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has changed the branding of its redevelopment grants from “Hope VI” to “Choice Neighborhoods Initiative,” but the goal of “transforming areas of concentrated poverty into viable and sustainable mixed-income neighborhoods” has not changed.

    Under Hope VI the 650 units at the Frederick Douglass and Stanton Dwellings off Alabama Avenue SE have been transformed into Henson Ridge; the 230 units at Eastgate Gardens off East Capitol Street NE have become Capitol Gateway; and only steps from the Anacostia Metro station the former Sheridan Terrace is undergoing a multi-phase construction of 183 units as Sheridan Station. Under the “Choice” banner more than 250 units at Kenilworth Courts in Ward 7 and more than 300 units at Barry Farm Dwellings in Ward 8 await redevelopment should they receive implementation grants after receiving planning grants. (In December HUD announced that DCHA, one of nine finalists this year, did not receive an implementation grant for Kenilworth.)

    “What we need is community power,” says Pondexter-Moore, speaking for those whose landlord is the city. “We have the mindset to fight government but we don’t have the tools or the resources.”

    To enable engagement in the planning process from public school closures to the redevelopment of public housing, Empower DC builds relationships with other service providers across the city, including Bread for the City. “But as organizers, we often take a more aggressive approach,” says Empower DC’s Executive Director, Parisa Norouzi. “Our basic purpose is to enhance low-income people’s abilities to advocate for themselves.”

    “Graveyard for organizers"

    “Make way, big Marion Barry coming through!” a man announced as he opened the door to the Barry Farm recreation center on Sumner Road SE on a Tuesday evening last month. Arriving a half hour late, the Ward 8 Councilmember quickly knocked heads with DCHA Director Adrianne Todman over the pace of Barry Farm’s redevelopment.

    “The council approved the [redevelopment] plan in 2007,” said Barry. “In all that time I haven't seen one brick laid,” he continued, as he addressed a dozen residents, flanked by that many officials from DCHA and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DPMED). “Since then we've had meeting after meeting and nothing has happened here but we've had Sheridan and Matthews Memorial completed.”

    However, in his next breath Barry said, “No offense to the people who live here, but I don't think anyone's going to buy a condo here. Look at the problems they've had at Sheridan, turning 80 [market] units into rentals.”

    Before Barry arrived, Janice Burgess of DCHA walked residents through a PowerPoint presentation that outlined the criteria used by HUD to recently award Barry Farm a $300,000 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant that the city is matching.

    Barry Farm is an area of extreme poverty, a neighborhood infected by crime, most notably the violent variety, and with failing schools, according to Burgess. Representatives of HUD were scheduled to visit the site within 30 days, after which a master planning and development team would be selected along with a vendor to undertake a “comprehensive needs assessment.”

    “Barry Farms has been called the graveyard for organizers,” Pondexter-Moore said. “But something strategic has to be done because people are living in fear and uncertainty." Ongoing concerns and the needs of residents of Barry Farm Dwellings led Empower DC and local college students to form the Barry Farm Tenants and Allies Association. The organization will conduct its own needs assessment and assist residents with organizing and representing their collective voice to “DCHA, DC GOV & any chosen developer(s) that will redevelop the Farms community,” according to the group’s initial flyer.

    The first meeting will be on Jan. 22. For more information call (202) 681-9457 or email bfwrtaa@gmail.com.

  • Calvin H. Gurley

    Name...whatever your name that you are hiding.

    LTR...is that all you got? Name calling..."stupid."

    Have you no opposition, or facts concerning the matter at Barry Farms or that poor residents are vital to the D.C. Gov't and Non Profits?

    I won't call your blog or you stupid, but hiding behind a noun and insulting people is for children.

    Be a man and state what you have to say...and stop throwing darts. And, what does my profession has to do with the facts that I gave on this article?

    LTR..if you don't agree just say so...but submit your counter opinion...or do you have an opinion of fact?

    Calvin H. Gurley

  • Calvin H. Gurley

    Now, I understand you LTR.

    Name or LTR whatever you go by…I see, its Jim Crow back in Washington, D.C. again.

    Folks who believe they are of privilege need not explain themselves or give explanation because their rank in society renders them superior. Therefore, you need not explain your denouncing of me and secondly do not have to explain your disagreement. Just call me and my facts stupid.

    I fully understand you now…Mr. Jim Crow…or is it LTR?

    Calvin H. Gurley

  • BigBrother

    "The city needs to do their job and fix it up, and maybe it'll be a better place for us."

    That sentence pissed me off so much. It's such a "government NEEDS to do for me" mentality. How about YOU do YOUR job and fix it up … and keep it that way. Then maybe you will teach your children how to respect their neighborhood and their neighbors - which will lead to a generation who will have the initiative to make their own life better without relying on Nanny Government to do for them, having the added bonus of lower crime and poverty.

  • the other Brian

    The Council members of Washington DC are to blame for this. The failed programs, both federal and local, have failed the residents of Barry Farm and other communities like it. Do any of these programs work? I'd love to see statistics on Barry Farm. The residents should welcome a way to a better life. If that is what they want?

    Where are they planning to house the residents while the development occurs? Has that been addressed?

    This has been in motion for well over 10 years. Is the real problem that Barry Farm wants to keep what they have?

    Its obvious now that Federal Agencies are moving to Congress Heights. This is the Nations Capitol! Jobs and life are plentiful. People should be outraged that the DC Council has allowed Barry Farm and other communities like it spiral downward. The DC Public School system should have done a better job of uplifting people that have been on these programs for (how many years?)

    I would love to hear a statement from the Council on the current graduation rates. I hope that the residents of Barry Farm can articulate their desires and work with the development teams that may have the answers they are looking for.

  • spmoore

    @ comment #35...the government needs to fix the units and property up because the government is the landlord!!! any other landlord would be considered a slum lord!! dcha is no different!!

  • Pingback: More Fireworks Ahead of Next Barry Farm Meeting - Housing Complex

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com thatsosad

    I live in Largo, but I was one who attended the meeting just to hear what the plans were for redevelopment. I was a quite on-looker, not a protester and I must say it's very sad that people don't mind living in poverty. Government housing is and should not be permanent. I understand that there are residents that have lived in BF for over 20 years. The government should be ashamed of it itself for allowing people to live in public housing without insisting that they get a job, better education or at the very least some training. These people are institutionalized, it's almost similar to people who go to jail. They become accustom to someone, in this case, the government taking care of them. Black people, we must do better and want better for ourselves. The government has been holding us back for years, beginning with slavery. DEMAND BETTER FOR YOUR SELF AND FROM YOUR GOVERNMENT!!!!

  • natnat

    that's my school

  • Pingback: blue ofica

...